Life & Style | People
We recently did an animation film for the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in collaboration with the
Emirates Wildlife Society.
Interviewed by Hina Navin, freelance writer, Friday
Published: 00:00 October 29, 2010
Image Credit: Kishore Kumar
Fadi Abu Ghali... "My role and passion is to collect new creative ideas from all over the
The idea was to conscientise and make UAE citizens and residents aware of the country's
ecological footprintand that there is need to take immediate action.
A two-minute film was created to highlight this issue and to emphasise that if we don't do
anything about it we will require 4.5 planet earths to sustain us and our endless needs in the
We had to find a creative way for advertising this important environmental problem, so we tied
up with London-based Asylum Films and saw a couple of animation styles they had and finally
found a cutout technique that used stock motion photography for animation. This technique was
similar to what we wanted so we used it to put together this film.
I have always been an animation geek.
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I scrutinise animation films and styles a lot more now. The WWF animation wasn't our first, we
have done several projects for among others the Dubai International Poetry Festival. Not using
human elements, characters or actors in an ad, believe it or not, makes its content a lot lighter
and easier to grasp. However, the method used to make such films has always been the real hero
and then the well-written script to develop such ad films adds to its content value.
This animation has got me more involved in environmental issues. The entire animation was
made out of paper cutouts, including the characters of the film - the father, the son, a Hummer
and a bulldozer. Making this was extremely intensive and involved using 2,500 stills wherein
every moment of the character had to be a different take and all of these were then combined
together using stock motion photography to make this film.
It took over 150 hours to build the sets out of 300 newspapers and 200 hours to shoot the 2,500
stills. The process took place in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and London and needed over 50 hours of
This two-minute ad film was released in May this year. It was shown in CineStar cinemas just
before the movie was screened. This campaign has also gone viral - all over the world. It is on
YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and in websites of different WWF chapters. We are also going to
enter this ad in several competitions and award events. Our partners in London are going to
submit it to TED.com, a forum where people bring in their creative ideas. We also wish to
submit this film to the Cannes Film Festival under the short film category. We are hoping this ad
will bring us more recognition.
I am more conscious about the environment now and have become a lot more careful about
what I buy.
When I walk into a supermarket the first thing I look for is local organic products. Most of these
products are easily available in major supermarkets but the sad part is that they are all packed in
plastic. I also volunteer for various environmental causes. Recently I was part of a team that
released newborn turtles into the sea. I am also actively involved in gathering information about
shark fishing, which is extensive in Dubai. These creatures are under threat because of their
valuable and much sought-after fins. In most cases after removing fins, the meat, which costs
less, is thrown away.
My company has also collaborated with the Emirates Marine Environmental Group. We are
pitching for Bee'ah, an environmental group in Sharjah, which is into waste management and
recycling projects. A lot of work we do for environmental companies only covers our costs.
These projects are not money makers but they are award winners as they bring us recognition.
I have been in the field of advertising for about 15 years.
I started my advertising career in one of the biggest advertising agencies in the world - EURO
RSCG, in Montreal, Canada. I worked as an account executive then account manager and kept
climbing up the ladder till I became account director. Then nine years ago I started AYA in
We moved our office to Dubai seven years ago and opened an office in Abu Dhabi in twofour54
(an Abu Dhabi-based regional creative centre facilitating the development of Arabic media and
entertainment content) about eight months back.
We are a branding agency but we are also creative collectors.
Our first event was the Cultural Village. Then we were asked to design interactive sales centre
experiences for our clients. For this project we brought in another Montreal-based company
called GSM to design and help our clients build interactive sales centres.
When not working, I take care of my one year and ten-month-old son, Hani. I make sure that I
leave the office at 6:15pm every day. No matter how busy I am, I never miss my son's bath time.
This is one thing that helps me stay focused. The time spent with my wife Zeina Jabado and son
is very important for me.
Another thing I am passionate about is snowboarding.
I am an avid snowboarder and I normally travel once a year to snowboard at different
destinations with seven of my friends. Last year, we went to Japan, which is one of my favourite
destinations. I feel every person should visit this place at least once in their lifetime. It is a
beautiful, different and diverse place that is so inspiring and has several exotic scenic locations.
I am a Palestinian, but I was born in Kuwait. Then we moved to Africa, then Lebanon, before
coming back to Kuwait. I was in Kuwait till I was around 17-18 years old and then moved to
Paris, where I lived for a year and a half. I went to the American University of Paris during my
stay there. We finally moved to Canada in 1991 and my family has been living there ever since.
My vision for AYA is to continue to make it a one-stop shop for creative branding.
My role and passion is to continue to find and collect new creative ideas from all over the world.
In the next 15 years, I would like to expand AYA into an art run. I wish to open a gallery where
we can host photo exhibitions, showcasing a lot of creative works. Incorporating commercial art
into what we do here and using these creative ideas in communications is what I wish to do in
the coming years. I want AYA to be a creative hub, open art galleries and bring creative talent
into this region.
Life & Style | People
Packing in pizzazz with Jeff Leach
Jeff Leach , a co-founder of N_K_D Pizza in the UAE , or Naked Pizza in the United States
speaks to Friday
Interviewed by Hina Navin, a Dubai-based freelancer
Published: 00:00 December 10, 2010
Image Credit: Silvia Baron/ANM
Jeff Leach: “Humour at the end of the day makes everything possible. I try to have fun and see
humour in everything I do”
It is a place in the midst of pine trees high up in the mountains. There is a picturesque river that
flows close by.
I sat next to it to take a break while I was doing an archaeological survey. I closed my eyes, lay
down and stared at the sky. I could feel the wind blowing through the pine trees and hear the
river flowing. I took a deep breath. It was the calmest place I had ever been to in my life. So now
when I am stressed out and find it difficult to fall asleep I think of the place. I also visit it as
often as I can because it helps me relax and unwind.
I travel all around the United States and that is a wonderful part about my job as I am able to
steal a little time for a short holiday.
I like hiking and water sports, scuba diving, snorkelling, riding and whatever the place has to
offer me during my trip. I am embarking on a trip to South America towards the end of March
next year where I am going on a motorcycle ride across Southern Patagonia. My vacations also
include short visits to my children who reside with their mother in Canada. When I am not
working, I love gardening, nurturing plants. It is really fascinating
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I grew up in Boston, Texas.
I was poor at academics but I accomplished quite a lot in sports. I attended the University of
Texas and New Mexico State University where I studied archaeology. I was initially interested in
geological sciences but developed a liking for archaeology because of the human element
attached to it. I also became interested in anthropology - the study of modern cultures.
Healthy bite: Naked pizza anyone?
Evolutionary nutritionist brings lifestyle brand to the region
In 1990, I did a field project in New Mexico where we had to go outdoors for a couple of months
and do field archaeology in the mountains as a part of our studies. This made me more interested
in my study in archaeology.
I was drawn towards the food that people ate, how it was cooked because food and the natural
landscape that provides it are the building blocks for all biological systems. If you want to
understand what makes us anatomically and physiologically human, you need to only understand
food and the evolution of technologies used to manipulate it. It is the most interesting way I
know of understanding who and why I am. Hence I continued my studies in this field.
I'm currently working on my PhD at the University of Leicester in archaeology and ancient
history. My specific research interests are in nutrition and ancient diets - a subject I have lectured
and published on widely (my research website is www.paleobioticslab.com)
Creating job opportunities for our community led us to the pizza business.
In 2006, I came to New Orleans a few months after Hurricane Katrina. The city was devastated.
There I met a guy named Randy Crochet who is now my business partner. Like a lot of people in
New Orleans, we wanted to create job opportunities in the community... we wanted to create a
business that would employ people so decided to step into a food business since this would give
me an opportunity to plug business into my research studies about health and well-being.
Why pizza? Because it is a very popular fast food product worldwide and is a 100-billion-dollar
Pizza is a convenient format. Like cereal, which you can reformulate and add ingredients to,
pizza (specifically the dough) offers the same delivery vehicle. By reformulating the dough and
using it as a delivery vehicle to healthier ingredients, we can create a better tasting/better-for-you
I wanted to utilise my knowledge to have a positive impact on modern society.
My education and interest has always been in food, diet and technology. And then in early 2000,
when my daughter was diagnosed with type-1 diabetes, I started focusing on diet and modern
society and the choices we make as parents and citizens about food and lifestyle and how it
affects our health and well-being.
So I aimed to create a dish on the concept of a modern society, on a business model that would
make money and that was also very nutritious. This was the mission with which Naked Pizza
started in the US and soon we are starting our franchise called N_K_D Pizza in the UAE, with
our first set of stores opening in January in Dubai Marina.
The name Naked Pizza itself accomplishes two things. First, it's a head-turner. And second,
naked means natural to most people and we offer a 100 per cent all-natural pizza - no additives,
preservatives or chemicals of any kind.
I looked back on the eating habits of humans two million years ago and made connections
between how man lived in ancient times and how we live today in a Westernised modern world.
We evolved on a nutritional landscape of a huge diversity of plants and animals that didn't
include chemicals, additives or a lot of processing methods. We took good food and processed it
into really small practical sizes which made it easy to digest. So what is it about our perfect
modern society that caused normal mammals to fall sick? I learnt that it is not just the quantity of
food that we eat, it is the kind of the food we consume. Modern pizza is basically a doughnut
with tomato sauce. So what a slice of cheese pizza is to a human body is basically pure sugar
minus the fat that immediately digests and absorbs and immediately causes a response. Hence,
your body doesn't recognise it as a traditional food. So we had to spend a couple of years
developing a natural pizza that was made from ten different seeds and grains, had no added sugar
or chemicals of any kind and was naturally healthy.
Enthusiasm and a grasp of a mission is very important for anybody who wants to run a business
or wants to be successful in any profession they're in.
I acquired my work ethic from my father - he was an extremely hard worker - and
empathy from my mother - she was a very kind person.
My enthusiasm and overall commitment to my mission is my strongest skill.
I think one has to be passionate in what one does and should believe in one's goal. It is vital to
pay attention to what you do - work well, work hard and work fast. In the process, do not forget
to pay attention to your family as well.
Being an entrepreneur is like nothing else in the world - it is hard, occasionally frustrating,
stressful but it also has huge rewards - you create jobs for people. So the feeling is remarkable.
Humour at the end of the day makes everything possible.
I try to have fun and see humour in everything I do. If you can keep a little bit of humour alive in
everything, it just makes things easier and life less serious.
I want people to understand that health and well-being are within our grasp. This is possible if
we decide to pay attention to the food we eat and ask questions about the food we consume. We
need to look beyond the labels.
A business house can play a bigger role than governments in influencing food decisions but
without telling people what they should eat. People in the food business should provide their
customers with a good proposition - one that will sway them towards their reasoning.
Life & Style | People
My world: Ameera Abdul Rahim Binkaram
Ameera Abdul Rahim Binkaram is the Chairperson of the Sharjah Business Women
Interviewed by Hina Navin for Friday magazine
Published: 00:00 September 9, 2011
Image Credit: Supplied picture
Ameera Abdul Rahim Binkaram is the Chairperson of the Sharjah Business Women Council.
While we were growing up, my parents were always encouraging my siblings and me to do
something constructive and not waste our time.
That must have been one reason I developed an affinity for social work early in life. In fact I
began participating in social projects during my school days where every month, my school The International School of Choueifat, Sharjah - used to organise fund-raising events to help the
needy or organisations that were involved in improving the world in some way.
I come from a family which has a history of cancer. Several members of my family have been
victims of the disease. I began working with cancer patients 11 years ago. A cancer society,
Friends of Cancer Patients (FOCP), had just been set up in Sharjah and I was invited to join the
organisation by a very senior and respected member in the society. I was happy to join because
the issue was very close to my heart. Also, most of us on the board were either victims of the
condition or had a dear one who'd succumbed to cancer.
At FOCP we help patients by educating them about the disease, and in some cases by making
their wishes come true.
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We also create awareness among the public, since a lot of common cancers, if detected early,
have a very high rate of survival. We are trying to highlight this fact through the FOCP Kashf
initiative, which was launched this year.
The Pink Caravan Kashf is one of the initiatives for breast cancer awareness and detection. We
also want to push the authorities to establish a UAE cancer registry.
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The Oil Baron Charity Ball (OBCB) is a fundraiser for and supporter of FOCP, and our ongoing
partnership is more than just financial. Every year the OBCB takes a list of our child patients and
fulfils at least one of their wishes, whether that be by sponsoring their school fees or providing
them with a laptop or an iPod. We need to encourage more such organisations from the private
sector to support FOCP by creating activities and fund-raising events and spreading awareness
within different sectors. My work at FOCP and developing the oncology sector in the UAE are
my top two priorities.
I think women in the UAE are privileged compared to their counterparts in other parts of
the world. I believe it's a bonus to be a woman. I also believe every woman should be engaged
in something meaningful, if not a career then at least some kind of charity work. If they become
mothers, this would also help them set a good example for their children.
I was lucky to be born into a family where I was always involved in some activity, be it horse
riding, reading, sport, dance, music, or learning a new language. All this kept me active.
I believe in the well-known Arabic saying "Whoever wants to pray will make time to pray".
Similarly, if you want to get something done, give it to a busy person and he will manage to
make time for it. Of course, for this to happen, the person will have to believe in it.
I remember when I told my dad that I wanted to work, he said, "before I send you into society I
need to train you".
He asked me to join his construction company, where I started as an office girl and had to serve
coffee to all the managers. Gradually I worked my way up and was responsible for human
resources and development. During that time we had around 4,000 employees and I had to look
into their concerns and requirements. Taking care of other people's needs thus became a part of
my nature, so working with a charity is easy for me.
My family supports me in everything I do. They are who I go to for ideas and inspiration.
They give me advice and are involved in all of my decisions. Even if they disagree with one of
my decisions, they would still support me and make sure everything turns out alright for me.
Your role model in life?
My role model is my father Abdelrahim. He worked his way up and he made sure that we learnt
to make our way. Having knowledge is one thing and being dependent on yourself is another
One quote you firmly believe in?
"If it is not broken don't fix it." This is something I really believe in especially at work. I have
been in charities and NGO's other than FOCP where the board members have changed regularly.
Every time a new team is appointed, rather than building on the previous team's successes, they
start all over again. The result: by the time the new team's tenure comes to an end, they would
have not started on their actual mission.
For volunteering in FOCP email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Who: Ameera Abdul Rahim Binkaram
What: Chairperson of the Sharjah Business Women Council, President of Board of Trustees
(Founding Member) of Friends Of Cancer Patients Society